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Further Foster Abuse Claims in the west of Ireland
Coleman Legal LLP
Apr 13, 2016

Further Foster Abuse Claims in the west of Ireland

The RTE Investigations Unit programme has revealed that a number of children were left in the care of a foster family in the west of Ireland for several years, despite sexual abuse allegations against one of the family members.

RTE’s ‘Failure to Foster Care’ programme reports that concerns were first raised back in 2007 when a young girl who was in respite care with the particular family alleged that an 18 year old family member abused her.

Up until quite recently, the foster family in question continued to provide some support services, while originally they looked after a number of children at any one time both with respite care and any long-term placements.

The RTE programme discovered that in excess of 70 charges were brought against the teenage member of the foster family accused of sexual abuse. The charges cover a five year period up to 2007 and relate to three victims. All three victims had received respite or foster care from this family and were all under 10 years of age at the time of the alleged assaults.

The young girl alleging the foster care abuse also claimed that a second girl who had been living with the family for over a decade was also being abused by the same family member.  A care plan was put in place in which the alleged abuser was not to have unsupervised contact with the young girls.

Following the allegations a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, following a Garda investigation, however no prosecution followed. The girl was subsequently removed from the foster home, but a third remaining male foster child stayed in the foster home for a further year after this before being removed. The boy’s birth mother was not informed of the alleged abuse until five months after the allegations were made.

Back in February, Director of the HSE Tony O’Brien, when asked at the Dail Public Accounts Committee session, if they were aware of any similar cases to the Waterford care home case, he stated they were unaware of any.

“I think we know that a lot of bad stuff happened in lots of parts of the country in many settings and we have other investigative processes in relation to them but I have no live lines of inquiry right now.” Mr O’Brien said at the time.

This latest round of revelations has provoked Child Protections bodies to express their concern about the number of children that were left in this particular foster home over an extended period of time despite serious allegations of sexual abuse.

Barnardos’ CEO Fergus Finlay has called for the establishment of an independent and permanent statutory body to investigate cases of this nature. Mr Finlay commented that the outgoing government promised a transparent judicial inquiry into allegations of abuse in the ‘Grace’ case. However, there is still no term of reference for this inquiry and already another series of abuse allegations has emerged and needs to be investigated.

The RTE Investigations Unit report, Failure to Foster care was broadcast on RTE last night and claimed that some HSE staff were aware of the allegations for a number of years, despite Director Tony O’Brien claiming that he was unaware of any additional allegations.

We understand that any form of abuse is extremely distressing for the victim and their family, and we deal with each case on a personal, one-to-one basis with compassion and understanding.

If you would like to discuss your situation in complete confidence, please contact Kathrin Coleman by email or FREEphone us on 1800 844 104 .

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Keith Rolls Partner Coleman Legal LLP

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